Ukrainian refugees leave hostel in Calais for visa application center

The first Ukrainian refugees have left their temporary accommodation in Calais amid chaotic scenes as their quest for safe passage to the UK remains mired in farce.

Several refugees holding suitcases and other belongings were rushed through a back door of the European Center for Stays in the French port when local mayor Natacha Bouchart arrived to address the media outside the building.

The refugees were put on a waiting bus, accompanied by a heavy police presence, bound for a visa application center in Paris, Brussels or Lille.

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart speaks to the media (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA wire)

A new ‘pop-up’ facility is being opened in Lille, around 70 miles east of Calais, as politicians fear smuggling gangs are targeting people in an area long associated with the crisis immigrants.

However, there was no information on where to go for anyone making their own way to Lille’s two main train stations on Wednesday.

Indeed, several staff members, including management, said they did not know where to send Ukrainian refugees arriving on paid tickets, expecting their visa applications to be processed.

Ukrainian refugees load their belongings onto a bus before it leaves the Center Européen de Séjours youth hostel in Calais (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA wire)

Omed Tahri, who had lived in Ukraine for 14 years before fleeing during the Russian invasion, told reporters outside the hostel where he and around 140 other refugees were staying: “I don’t know what’s going on in day by day.

“It’s very complicated for me.”

Mr Tahri, a translator who fled his home in Kharkiv to join his sister in East Ham, east London, was among those to leave the hostel for Paris, after being told he had an appointment Thursday morning.

The Afghan national, who is traveling with several members of his family, said: “We had a good job, a good business, now we have left everything.

“Now I have no money, no place to go.

“I hope they give us the visa…we want to be a unit, the whole family together.”

Ukrainian refugees on board the bus (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA wire)

The Interior Ministry has said the location of the Lille visa center will not be made public, raising further concerns about how refugees arriving in the French city will know where to go upon arrival.

Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: “The problem here is that there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty.

“It makes the lives of upset people even more difficult.”

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Linda G. Ibarra